Massage is a lovely way for you to express your love and care for your baby, it also can get your newborn to sleep better. Massage has many added benefits for your baby, including improving weight gain, aiding digestion, improving circulation, and easing teething pain. Baby massage is a great way for you and your partner to bond with your baby, and you may find it relaxing, too!
So, What is the Baby Massage?
As many people wonder, baby massage is not very much different than an adult massage, besides that the person you are giving a massage to is very tiny and precious. Baby massage is gentle and rhythmic stroking of your baby's body with your hands. Often massage oils and lotions are used to help hands to glide smoothly over baby's skin. Some of them may contain beneficial essential oils to naturally calm the newborns and help with sleep.
As part of your massage routine, you can gently manipulate your baby's ankles, wrists and fingers. You can talk softly or sing to your little one while massaging.
The soothing strokes of your hands stimulate the production of the feel-good hormone oxytocin in you, your baby and even your partner, if he's watching. Oxytocin is the hormone that gives you that warm, loving feeling when you hold your baby close or breastfeed.
What are the benefits?
There are lots of ways baby massage can benefit not just your baby, but you and your partner as well. Massage may help your baby to develop mentally, socially and physically; stay relaxed and not get upset, cry less and sleep better. But it's also helping you to feel more empowered as a parent.
The time you set aside for a massage can be your special time together. As you massage your baby, it comes naturally to chat and have plenty of eye contact. That can help mums with postnatal depression, or who are at risk of depression, and dads who miss out on a lot of the hands-on care of their babies because of the work and if their baby is breastfed.
What do I need?
First of all, pick a time when your baby is between feeds: not too hungry or too full. A good time for massage is when your little one is awake, but settled. You may like to make it part of your baby's bedtime routine, after a bath and before a bedtime feed.
It's also very important to find a comfortable and warm (around 24°C) place in your home. You can use a towel or folded sheet as a mat. Then make sure there are no distractions in the room: if you have a pet, put it in another room, and turn off your mobile phone. You may like to play some relaxing music, but turn it low so your kiddo can hear your voice.
Choose the right massage oil or baby lotion. We suggest massage oils and lotions with gentle formulations specially designed for babies even with sensitive skin. Look for Calendula Oil in the ingredients list to sooth the skin and calm the baby, and Coconut, Jojoba or Sweet Almond Oils for deep moisturizing and mild scent.
You will also need towels to mop up any accidents, clothes to dress your baby afterwards & your usual nappy changing kit.
How should I massage my baby?
For the first few times, you may want to massage only baby's legs to get her used to the sensation. Then try to follow a routine pattern massaging legs before arms, hands and body. Reading your baby's cues is the most important aspect of massage. Your baby will tell you when the massage needs to end and which strokes she likes or dislikes. If your baby starts to cry during the massage, she is telling you that she has had enough.
There are plenty of videos over the Internet with great step-by-step guides, but we recommend these ones created by Baby Centre to help with calming, strengthening, digestion and stretching. Check them out for tips or inspiration to create your own routine.